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Oceana Community Foundation awards over $323,000 in scholarships – a new record!

June 13, 2023 – Congrats and best wishes to the class of 2023! The Oceana Community Foundation is excited to support 197 new and renewing students and five Complete Your Degree adult scholarship recipients as they pursue higher education. The Foundation’s scholarship program continues to grow to better meet our graduates’ interests in post-secondary education. This year’s program surpassed last year’s record amount with a total of $323,545 in 280 awards from 60 different scholarship funds! Recognizing the value in long-term support for students pursuing higher education, over a third (38%) of this year’s awards are renewable in future years including Hart Public Schools Robert E. Diman Scholarship, Shelby Rotary Club Scholarship, Michael W. Malburg Sr. Memorial Scholarship, and more.

Of the 115 Oceana students that applied to this year’s scholarship program 87% received an award. For scholarship recipients, 27% identify as Black, Indigenous, or as a Person of Color. Over a third (38%) are first-generation college students and 40% are TIP eligible, a state program providing college tuition assistance for eligible Medicaid recipients. Most recipients (86%) are planning on attending an in-state college or program. Almost a quarter (22%) will attend a trade school or community college. The most popular areas of study among recipients include science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM at 44%), business (10%), and agriculture and trades programs (13%). A majority (88%) of awards support students recently graduating from high school. To view the full list of scholarship recipients (incoming freshman, college & adult learners) check out the Foundation’s website.

“We are incredibly excited for this year’s recipients to start their journey towards a degree or skilled trades certification,” Foundation CEO Tammy Carey shares. “The generosity of so many individuals and groups provide our students both a financial and moral boost, knowing that their community cares about their success.” The Foundation currently houses 54 scholarship funds, representing the support of numerous families, individuals, organizations, and businesses for Oceana County’s graduates.

Two new scholarship funds were established this year: the Gene Davidson Engineering and Skilled Trades Scholarship and the Clancey Aerts Skilled Trades and Healthcare Scholarship. Both funds granted their first awards to Ali Townsend of Hesperia and Carla Estrada-Navarrete of the University of Michigan.

The Gene Davidson Engineering and Skilled Trades Scholarship was established by the Pentwater Artisan Learning Center (PALC) and Gene’s wife, Barbara, in memory of a great engineer, friend, and artist. Gene and Barbara established PALC in 2002 to create a space for Oceana makers to connect and collaborate. He was a passionate wood- and metalworker, helping build the collaborative ‘Michigan: A Great Lake Love Affair’ sculpture adorning the outside of PALC Center, amongst a great many items built for friends, family and community spaces. Gene’s memorial scholarship celebrates the ingenuity of future artists and craftspeople – like Ali – and the great works they will create.

Rita Aerts established the Clancy Aerts Skilled Trades and Healthcare Scholarship in memory of her husband and his long-lasting career in agriculture. After graduating from Hart High School, Clancy earned his Bachelor of Science in Dairy Manufacturing from Michigan State University. After serving in the military, he spent his career at the USDA’s dairy division before retiring as the Assistant Market Administrator, Federal Order 40. Outside of the office, Clancy was a loving father, volunteer EMT, dedicated Oceana County Fair President and leader throughout Hart. Rita established his memorial scholarship to support students sharing Clancy’s interests in skilled trades and healthcare, beginning with Carla Estrada-Navarrete, a future physician’s assistant.

For more information about making a gift, now or through an estate plan, creating a named fund at the Foundation, or to learn more about our scholarship programs, call Tammy Carey at 231-869-3377.